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​Pharmacist Sandip Patel 
with some of the wasted medicines
returned to FairGreen Pharmacy

​​​​​How to cut down on wasted medicines – a Merton pharmacist’s advice

An estimated £1 million of NHS money is lost in Merton each year through medicines waste alone. This could be spent instead on

- 33 more district nurses; or
- 270 more hip replacements; or
- 28 more community physiotherapists; or
- 23 more dementia nurses.

During Ask Your Pharmacist week (November 9-15), Merton pharmacists are taking this opportunity to raise awareness amongst patients, carers and the general public about the importance of using their medication properly and only ordering what they need.

This builds on a campaign which  NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group launched last  summer to reduce the amount of wasted medication in the area.

The campaign has increased awareness about medicines waste at care and nursing homes in the borough whose responsibility it is to ensure residents' medicines are managed properly.

At Fairgreen Pharmacy in Mitcham, more medicines are being brought back for disposal (see picture) which could be the result of patients checking their stocks at home.

However, there is still a long way to go. Sandip Patel, Superintendent Pharmacist at Fairgreen Pharmacy in Mitcham, explains that one of way tackling this is for the pharmacist to double check when repeat prescriptions are presented, that patients are only ordering what they need and have checked their stocks back home.

Once a prescription is dispensed and leaves the pharmacy premises, even if it is unopened, it cannot be taken back and re-dispensed, but has to be disposed of safely by the pharmacy.

'A lot of patients are not aware of this and think the medicine can be re-used,' Sandip adds.

Around half of the UK population do not take or use their medicines as prescribed. This can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • patients not believing the medicine is necessary
  • possible side effects
  • difficulty with taking/ using medicines  or fitting them into daily routines
  • patients feeling they are taking too many medicines
  • patients cutting down or stopping medicines they have been taking for a long time

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